Law360 (April 3, 2020, 1:38 PM EDT) --
Today's perspective comes from Patrick Harder, a Los Angeles-based partner at Nossaman LLP and chairman of the firm's infrastructure group.
What challenges has the pandemic created in your specific area of work?
Many of the challenges revolve around interpreting constantly shifting government orders to help our clients assess their ability to advance their respective projects, especially projects that are under construction. Additionally, finding uniformity across jurisdictions has been difficult. But thankfully, the orders are almost universally treating public works construction as essential activities, which allows projects to move forward, with social distancing measures in place.
The impact of the various "safer at home" orders have actually worked in favor of many of our projects. Some of the complex logistical challenges involved in undertaking massive construction projects around operating roads, airports and universities have become much easier as the public usage of these facilities has dropped dramatically, at least in the short term. At universities, for instance, classes are being taught in an online environment and few students are circulating on campus. This makes it easier to continue or even accelerate building badly needed facilities, while still maintaining safety for workers through social distancing measures.
How are you and your family adapting at home?
We are handling it well. I often work remotely while on the road visiting clients and working on our transactions, or from home to accommodate time zone differences, so I am used to it. Having the whole household work remotely has surfaced some technical challenges, but we have worked through those without major problems.
The biggest shift in terms of working from home is ensuring that staff who are not used to working remotely have the necessary support, technological tools and guidance. That has been going very well thanks to our outstanding IT and administrative teams.
What is the most creative or productive response to the crisis you've witnessed so far?
There are a few things — the first is the calmness that I see in our industry, which has adapted to this without missing a beat. This is impressive, especially for our government clients, who not only have to deal with implementing large, complex infrastructure projects, but are now also dealing with the myriad challenges that governments have to deal with during a public health emergency.
I have also been very impressed and thankful that the telecoms have all stepped up to the plate and done an exceptional job meeting the enormous increase in demand as more and more people are working remotely. We are hopeful that they will continue to provide this type of outstanding service while everyone is hunkered down to "flatten the curve" of exposure to the coronavirus.
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.
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